Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.

Author's Note: Just continuing and will do edits here and there once BlackShield becomes less busy, plus my own, now as time is mine again. Now on with the show.

Ready Go!


"Azarath Metrion Zynthos."

"Azarath Metrion Zynthos."

Raven's meditation chant disappeared into the sea air.

"Azarath Metrion Zynthos."

A vision of Robin being disassembled on a table next to Cyborg in the same state entered her mind.

"Azarath Metrion Zyn…"

Then came another vision of Robin being strung up by his shoulders by the H.I.V.E.'s new leader, sneering.

"Azarath Metrion…"

Another of Robin's mind and soul being scattered across the winds as the H.I.V.E. laughs on.

"Azarath Met…"

"Raven?"

A sudden vision of Starfire kissing Robin entered her mind.

"Azarath Me…., yes Starfire?" She opened her eyes and looked up.

"I thought I would partake in mediation. May I join you?"

"I would except I'm not in the mood to mediate right now."

"Oh." The alien sounded disappointed. "Why can not you?"

'Yeah, the truth will go real well here.' "Blocked."

"Why?"

"Terra. Some issues I haven't resolved yet. I just don't know how to go about it." 'I'm such a good liar.'

"Yes, there is much uncertainty about her and the…issues she's unleashed."

"Indeed."

"What is your complication?" Starfire sat Indian style next to her.

"I suppose that…how Robin could fall for her so easily. He's the trained leader; he's supposed to uncover subterfuge."

"Robin is confusing, especially with matters of the opposite gender it seems. It seems that Terra prayed upon his…insecurities and let herself be in his good graces, yes?" 'Where did that come from?'

"I don't think that was it, but it is a good observation. He does act strangely with them at times. Like with…your sister."

"Yes." Starfire said in a terse voice.

"But that's in the past. Robin learns from his errors. Like his obsessions with Slade."

Starfire's tone lightened up. "Yes, he did."

"And he can take anything unexpected, speaking of which, I have to ask, what brought that up?"

"I am unsure but I worry about him at the H.I.V.E. He is rather…fragee-lay." Raven looked at her quizzical.

"Fra…I think you mean fragile. And don't dismiss Robin; he's faced many things no human should have to deal with. He's stronger than he looks."

"Yes, but…"

"Relax, he can handle himself." The dark empath stated firm. Starfire turned away and stared at the bay.

"All right, thank you, I shall leave you to your mediation." Starfire stood up and proceeded to walk out.

"You're going be at the console aren't you?"

"Why, no. I was going to…"

"Please. Don't. Look, he said he'd call by midnight, and if he can't call by the morning, then we'll…think of something."

"And do a rescue mission?" The alien asked hopeful.

"Something like that." Starfire was about at the door when Raven called out to her.

"Yes?"

"I'm worried about him too." Her voice was barely audible. Starfire left the empath with a small smile.

'Alright. Let's try again.' Raven closed her eyes and focused.

"Azarath…"


After two more classes and an explosion at the insect lab, the two wanderers returned to the cafeteria.

"Why you did choose to go to the lab that was working on a bug that was unstable?" Dynamite grumbled as he punched his order on a nearby vending machine.

'Lucky this takes American coins.'

"Not my fault they decided to move up the Majaba project or that it was made with unstable chemicals. I'm just a flunky. What do I know? Besides, I usually end the tour with the lab. Give it a classy touch. After all, our acronym is named after a bug theme." Jinx used her hex powers on the machine to get a free soda.

"You know, I could have gotten both for free." She gestured to his soda can.

"I didn't want to do anything unseemly."

"Oh please, we're all criminals here. Everything is unseemly. The students have no pretense about what they do. With the exception of a few. Far too anal and ridge for my tastes. Except for you, apparently."

That time, he couldn't suppress his blush. "Why do you say that?"

"Because you seem to be hiding much more than you're letting on. Intrigues me." She said suggestively.

"Oh really?" He returned the smirk.

"Why else would you hide behind such a fashionable but outdated mask?" She tried to suppress the urge to rip that mask off and see his eyes.

"I don't suppose I can say it's because chicks dig me can I? No, just that it worked for those two powderpuffs. You know, the Boy Blunder and…what do they call Speedy?"

"Arrogant archer works. Although Gizmo's snot metaphors would quite color it up."

"He would know. That fake Tournament of Heroes and all that." 'Oops. Augh! Too late.'

She raised an eyebrow. "Yes. It was. I was in the heroines' one." 'Whew.'

"Really? Who won?"

"I'll put it this way: it was someone who wasn't fashionable and wore the tackiest shade of blue. Detestable." Her voice began to rise.

'Blue?' "Blue?"

"Yes, blue, a most clichéd color. It's a safe color. Like black. You can't do wrong in it. It's pandering and unoriginal. Turns my stomach. Along with bellbottoms."

"I see. You're quite…fashion and color conscious."

"Dam—Darn right. I believe fashion makes or breaks your career. Why do you think Sladie is so popular? He has great fashion sense. His mix of fashion cancels the possible unoriginality of his color choice."

"And what about my fashion sense?" He hid his anxiety. She looked him over.

"Hmm…White is an interesting choice. A nice mix of boldness and attention grabbing. You want the spotlight and yet the hat and…the mask indicate that you're hiding something quite deep."

"Am I?"

"You can't fool a fashion bug who has been around for a while. You're hiding something."

"You want to unearth that?" Dynamite said in a muted, threatening tone.

"Not really, no. Not unless it clashes with my plans, but….you really need to stop taking things so seriously." The gothic witch said in a light, flippant tone.

"I do not."

"Yes, you do. I can see it all over you. No wonder you've been having problems, with your friends. You need to loosen up. Even the new boss, Blood, sees the need to relax. Like with this school carnival in the next week. It's going to be quite a row, especially since I'm one of the main coordinators."

"Really? Funny you should say that. As my…punishment for resorting to fisticuffs, I have to work there."

"Yare Yare Daze, this should make the cheese rather binding, now doesn't it? Well, since the meeting is after last bell and…" The bell went off. "We can go straight to the atrium and you can pay for making me take time out of my busy schedule and be so hospitable to you, with work. Doesn't that sound wonderful?" She went about the motions of swooning.

"Right. You're not having the vapors are you?"

Jinx sighed heavily. "You have no appreciation for the theatrics, do you?" She ushered him out of the cafeteria.

"Looked more histrionic to me."

"Boys. Come on before I coax a teacher into giving you a detention."


'I forgot what a pain quizzes and tests were. That's something I don't miss now.' Stone trudged to the atrium.

'Now I got to face that snotty witch again. Why did God make her so attractive?' He noticed a closed off structure, with students walking to and fro. 'Looks to be right.' He went inside and found…

"What are you doing here, toe jam eater?" Gizmo shrieked at the granite teen, while lazing on a chair, playing his portable Gamestation GS, under a started booth near the entrance.

"I'm here to help Jinx, why are you here? I heard you didn't like extracurriculars." He stared around at the space, noticing the lumber and power tools. An evil thought with Gizmo and a buzz saw entered his mind.

"I dropped WD-40 motor oil in the sloppy joe mix. Oddly enough, no one noticed. Until that Fatman rip-off got sick and vomited on that chick, Boogerbee."

"Isn't that the guy with the angel chick? Man, I got to know her, er, his name."

"Good job covering, snotlixs. No one will ever know." The tech midget rolled his eyes.

"At least I'm trying. When was the last time you had a date?"

"I give up, booger king, what year is it? I don't have time for gunk like that. I got my games to play." He continued to play his game.

"Oh, dude, I got to disagree. There is always time for that."

"Whatever."

"Fine, can we get this started already?" Stone just rolled his eyes.

"Can't, until the gunked-up goth shows up. Probably scheming another attack on a fashion boutique."

"Figures. And I got things to do."

"Like what?"

"I do have Wyatt's test to worry about."

"And making a date with the punk pixie?" Gizmo chimed in.

"Uh, no." Stone attempted to look innocent.

"You're so hopeless; you know she's using you, right?"

"Oh please. How would you know?"

"I got eyes, kludgehead. Don't you see it?"

"No, why don't you shed a little light?" Stone said condescendingly.

"Fine. Her reputation, her grades. Man, you are a babe booger in the woods."

"She is not. I'd know if I were used. And why are you warning me about her?"

"Because as much as I hate you, I hate her even more."

"Uh, wow. That's pretty bad." Stone was at a loss for words.

"Don't get misty on me, hairball."

"I'm not, just thanks I guess, but I know what I'm doing."

"As long as we don't hug, you do whatever you want, scrum buffer."

"So charming." Stone let out a sigh.

"So that's my story of killing a man just to watch him die." Jinx's seductive voice began to echo throughout the hall.

"Isn't that from a song about a man from Reno?" Stone looked up and turned to the entrance at the second voice.

"What? What's crawling up your butt?" Gizmo noticed.

"No, just, sounds like someone I know." 'Could it be?'

The Boy Bomber and the gothic witch entered the structure. "Good to see you're still punctual, Stone." Jinx quipped. Dynamite and Stone did not show any recognition to each other.

'There he is!'

'Robin?'

"Yeah, well, when Blood makes an offer, it's usually one you can't refuse."

"Without a doubt. But where are my manners? Stone, meet new pretty boy, Kid Dynamite."

Dynamite barely gave a nod. "Hey."

"Hey."

"Great, now we know each other so intimately, we can start getting to work."

"And what will we be doing, slug pixie?" Gizmo gibed from the background.

"We'll be making some attractions. I want some good ones, original ones."

"Like what?" Stone asked.

"How should I know? You're the so-called smart ones."

Gizmo activated his jetpack and popped out to Jinx. "If we're so smart, then why are we taking orders from you, booger brain?"

"Because I'm cute and I know what people want. You would have them have a tour of the nose, if you could."

Dynamite gave a smirk. "Well, we can play that sword in the barrel game and have Gizmo pop up if say, he gets stuck in the wrong place." Jinx gave a grin.

"I like the way you think."

"And I'll like the way you'll burn as your snot smearing backsides will be used for homing devices for missile target practice." The tech midget fumed.

"Besides that, what else?"

"Gizmo just suggested it. Shooting gallery." Dynamite observed.

"Sounds pedestrian but sounds fine given the school's violent motif. I on the other hand, prefer something more…daring. Something to use my natural talents. Sex appeal naturally." Jinx nearly purred.

"With what? Being a stripper?" Stone quipped.

"Don't be so gauche. I was thinking "Cabaret." I'd design the costumes and play the lead of course."

"Of course. What about chorus?" Dynamite asked.

"Yes, most of the female students couldn't carry a tune or have the proper size to grace my costumes. As if they could. Perhaps just a one woman show." The gothic witch began to ruminate.

"You do that, now about something else that's not going to be NC-17?" Stone interjected.

"You trying to tell me something?" She folded her arms.

"Yeah, I don't see the point of you slinking around in a skimpy dress just to steal the carnival with your, er, goodies. Don't you have more self respect than that?"

Dynamite suppressed the image of Jinx parading around in a cabaret outfit. "One of the lessons the Academy taught me was to use what's available to me and yes, my body is available. I have to make an impression. Another lesson they taught me."

"But to pander to the lowest element possible? You're better than that."

"Am I? I'm proud of my body and I want everyone to know how proud I am and what they'll never have. Including you at the rate you're going."

"Oh, what a loss." Stone said, sarcastic.

Gizmo snuck up on Dynamite. "This is better than any video game, cludgehead."

"Oh forget it, I should have known better than to expect more from someone as bourgeois as you. You and Gizmo get the barrel setup done. Dynamite, you'll help me with the cabaret."

"M—me? Why me?" The Boy Bomber nearly fainted from blushing.

"Because you look to be the most likely one to control your hormones and yet, not be a prude. Come on. Let's finalize the details elsewhere. Somewhere that the rigid schoolmarm won't interrupt our creative process." She gave Stone a dirty look as she ushered Dynamite out of the structure. 'Wait, no! Damn it!'

"Wait, hold on. Why did you say that I'm most likely to control my hormones?" Dynamite struggled out of her grip.

"Because you seem rather repressive. And you don't seem like you would act on them."

"How do you know that?"

"Because you're hiding too much of yourself. You wouldn't want to mess up what you have now and take off that mask. Am I right?"

Dynamite mused about her words for a minute, Jinx grinned. "Yeah, I'm right. Come on."

"In a minute, something I want to ask Stone." He started to go back.

"About what? How to be parochial?"

"No, but…"

"Come on, you'll need a tour of my room so you'll know where it is, because that's where we're going to go practice. Plus your own room, wherever that will be." She grabbed his arm.

"Your room?" He couldn't repress his blush.

"Of course, my room is isolated from the rest of the student body, so no one will spread any vicious rumors. Unless I'm the one who's spreading it."

"Naturally. But I don't know. " He pulled back his arm.

"Unless you're afraid to enter a lady's boudoir."

"I am not afraid. But…"

"Wonderful, let's go. And don't worry about rocks-in-his-head. You'll see him soon enough." They walked into yet another corridor.

'He's alive. Thank God. Just how to get away from her.' She walked ahead and he saw her hips waggle.

'At least, I got a good view of something else in the meantime.' He suddenly blushed. 'Oh God, what's happening to me?'


After much blushing and staring at Jinx's derriere in silence, they achieved their destination at the end of a long corridor: her room.

"Here it is. Not much I admit but it's livable." She opened the door and entered.

"Yes, I'm sure." Dynamite slowly trudged inside and hid his stares. The room looked right out a chapter from Ali Baba and the Arabian nights, with several gothic art and artifacts scattered about the room to counter the Eastern atmosphere.

"First time you've spoke since we left the carnival. You alright?"

"Y—Yeah. Just couldn't think of something to talk about. Interesting room."

"Yeah, it's ok." She shrugged. "But you're hiding again. You're so repressed. Out with it."

"Just surprised by your spat with Stone. You two seem…rather close."

"It left you tongue tied for that long? What the age thing?"

"No."

"It's the racial thing isn't it?"

"No, just...'Might as well tell the truth or close to it.' Your argument. I can see it from his point of view rather easily." She was about to open her mouth when he continued.

"But I can see your point too. I know a girl who…shows off her body too. I get it. I may not like it but it's your choice." Jinx seemed to be satisfied.

"Oh. Well, I have the body and I know the moves, so why not?"

"That you do but the better question: Will Blood authorize it? He seems behind the times a bit." She sat down on the bed. She patted a seat next to her.

'Okay…'

"Try a lot but yeah, he'll be a problem."

"Well, you…could pull the old switcheroo. S—Say you're playing a magic act and you do the cabaret instead." The Boy Bomber slowly sat down next to her and didn't bother to hide his ubiquitous blush.

Jinx gave a most approving look. "Devious, underhanded, treacherous. I like it."

"I figured you would."

"And you talked yourself into being my special on stage helper instead of just merely being behind of the scenes as I first envisioned. Congratulations." She adopted a Slade-like pose and pitch to her voice as she leaned against him.

Dynamite was dumbfounded. "Me? Wait a minute. I agree with you and all but I'm not going up there. I…have stage fright."

"You'll be fine; I'll help you with that. Alright?"

"No, sorry." He was about to walk out when she grabbed his arm and forced him back on the bed.

"Look, not like I can ask a lot of people. The only ones left are Stone, Gizmo, and Mammoth and you think any one of them can pull out the moves needed for a cabaret? Stone would refuse and think me akin to a prostitute and Gizmo would sabotage, and I'd be laughed off the stage."

"What about Mammoth?" A stupid question but it was still a possible way out.

"Please. I'd have a better effect if I dressed up a burnt out light bulb. So, will you?" Her lips began to quiver.

'I don't have time for this, although…no, no.' "No. I'm sorry; I don't have the constitution or the time for it. I'm sorry." He began to walk out.

"You realize that if you leave, you'll stomp on a girl's dream." She grabbed his arm again.

"No." He pulled away.

"I'll give the money I make, to…orphans and charity." Dynamite stopped briefly.

'She had to say that word.' "No."

"I'll…make sure you'll never explode anything in this town again." Her voice was rising in pitch as she ran past him and blocked the doorway.

Dynamite sighed. 'How desperate is she? At least if I do this, I can get to Cy.' "Sell me."

"Ok, we'll be the most popular in school and gain a reputation of being anti-authority and most of all; you get to look at me in my sexy cabaret costume all the time. Give you some nice dream fodder." Dynamite noticed a unique smirk grace her lips.

"Fine, I'll do it."

"I knew you would."

"Shut up." He rolled his eyes.

"You know I'm your hero."

"Can I go?" He gave a bored look and Jinx sighed.

"Yes, yes. Go. I'll go call the committee, telling them we have something here, along with the twits' attractions. We needed minimum, three. And as a reward for assisting me, I may check on your room." She whipped her standard issue H.I.V.E. Communicator.

'That looks like our tech. Did they steal it when they stormed the Tower?' "Right, I'll go tell the guys."

"Just tell them we changed our minds and now have a magic act. Gizmo would rat and ruin everything."

"I'm not an idiot, you know. I understood, considering it was my idea." He scoffed at her condescension

"Just making sure you're not ruining our act."

"Now why would I do that?" He said in an innocent tone as he left.


"You're doing that wrong, gunk bucker." Gizmo's voice shrilled throughout the booth.

"I'm just fine." Stone gritted his teeth, bending over a bottom of a barrel, carved with several slits.

"You're supposed to put that spring under the shaft, not ¾ of the spiral, hairball."

"I can see that, stop being a backseat carpenter." He started to hammer two boards together.

"Not my fault the front seat can't get it right, slug face."

"I'm about to beat you with this hammer if you don't back off!"

"So testy. Wonder what stepladder crawled up your butt?" 'Freaky little gnome. One day I'll…'

Stone slammed the hammer against his thumb. Gizmo stared quizzically after a few seconds.

"Shouldn't you be in pain now, scuff stain?"

"Oh yeah, owww." The granite teen said lamely. "Just my power. Gives a suit of armor even in human form." He grabbed another nail and put it in place.

"How convenient." The tech midget said in a sour expression as Stone kept hammering.

"Hey guys." Dynamite returned.

"Whadda you want?"

"I'm just telling you that Jinx is changing her mind and deciding to do a magic act instead. And…I'll be in the act too." He barely suppressed his blush.

"Goodie for you, and maybe if we're lucky, you'll saw her in half and mix up the parts. Her head should be where her butt is, anyway." The tech midget cut in.

"Or yours for that matter." Stone interjected. "We're low on nails, go get some."

"Make me, toe jam brain." He hovered, defiant.

"Fair enough, and on another note." He brandished the hammer. "Want to see my Hammer Brothers impersonation?"

"Knowing my luck, you'll get it too, wood grain smelling gunk licker." Gizmo continued his sotto voce muttering as he hovered into the grounds. Stone and Dynamite just stared off at each other.

"I didn't think you'd show up. Especially dressed like that." Stone quipped.

"It looked fine in the mirror back home but that's beside the point. I'm here to see if you were captured and needed rescuing."

"I don't need rescuing right now, do I?"

"Well, when you didn't call for two days, what should I have done? Waited for an engraved invitation by this Brother Blood?" Stone loosened up.

"Yeah, I'm sorry, it's just…"

"What? What was so alluring that you couldn't pick up the communicator and let us know if you're still alive or not?" The Boy Bomber asked impatiently.

"You wouldn't understand."

"Oh? And what wouldn't I understand?"

"Alright, I'll ask you this: in all the time you spent living in a cave, did you ever go to school?" Stone stared straight through him, his eyes trying to peer though that mask.

"No, I was trained privately. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Everything."

"What do you—" He never finished as Gizmo returned.

"I hope this is what you wanted, crud muncher. I'm not making another trip." He about dropped the box on Stone's feet.

"It's fine, I'm sure. Come on." Stone handed Dynamite the hammer and some nails, and went back to work.

"I hope I can do this right. I've never done power tools."

"Nothing to it really, as long as you is not worried about having to use your thumbs later, slush brain." Gizmo taunted as he resumed his seat. Less than a minute, Dynamite struck his thumb.

"Dam—Darn it!" He covered the now swollen thumb and worked through the pain.

"You'll be fine, not like you'll lose it." The granite teen smirked.

"Not yet."

"Be a man, won't you?" Stone took a look.

"You be a man; I'll worry about my thumb."

"It's fine. But give that a bit to settle."

"Guess I'll sit out this part now. But anything I can do instead?" Dynamite covered and massaged his swollen thumb.

"Beyond waiting for the pixie to lick your booboo, you can get me a soda, newbie." Gizmo chimed in.

"You were just up, get it yourself."

"Why would I if I have noobs willing to be on my good side and they in turn, will get on the Headmaster's good side?"

'Really? No, I'm not sucking up to Gizmo.' "That may be, but I'm on his good side, just fine."

"Oh please, you're not even fit to lick his boots, toe jam swimmer."

"You're right: I'm not but you are. You certainly have the height for it." Dynamite returned the jeer.

"You will too, when I blast your kneecaps off, scrum slug."

"I'm going to check out the other displays while my thumb recovers. No time for love, Dr. Jones." Dynamite smirked at the tech midget before he walked away.

"Gunking kids." The tech midget muttered sotto voce.


Dynamite walked around the various booths while observing the students working in various speeds.

'Wow. They do seem rather…normal and carefree. Hard to believe this is a super villain school.' He continued to walk around and sniffed around some of the concession booths, preparing their wares.

"That smells so good. Wish I had some of their currency."

"The orphan wants a meal?" A familiar female voice cut into his thoughts. He turned around and stared into a pair of carnation feline eyes.

"You settle things with the committee?"

"Yes, we'll do the 'magic act', shooting gallery and 'Slade's' attack, with the barrel. We'll have 5 days to finish."

"'Slade's' attack?"

"Who wouldn't want to stick it to Slade?" She threw a lop-sided grin.

"You got me there."

"Come on, we can settle our own act over funnel cake." She grabbed her hand, he once again blushed. He moved his hand away.

"That's ok. I'm not hungry." Jinx suddenly looked disheartened.

"But…I could never resist a funnel cake." Her face instantly lightened up.

"Neither could I. One of the few pleasant parts of the school carnival." They headed to the proper booth.

"I know this guy, leave it to me." She whispered to him and walked to the counter. A young Batman impersonator was tending to the oven.

"Hey, you."

"Jinx. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"You know me, I'm a social gal, have to be out among the people. And that brings me to your booth. I smell the lovely aroma of funnel cakes in the air."

"I'm just cooking a few practice ones, I'm not ready to sell yet. I don't have the toppings for one thing."

"We can steal the powdered sugar from the cafeteria so don't worry about that, just I'm ever so famished and I might faint without subsidence. And your funnel cake would just hit the spot." Dynamite just rolled his eyes at the gothic fairy's flirting.

'Wish I knew why she likes to carry on so much.'

"Jinx, no."

"Oh, come on. Those brutes would have had you back at Darkway if it weren't for me saving you, the least you can do is give me and my companion a little funnel cake." She batted her eyes.

"I swear you did it just to get something from me." He shook his head.

"Am I that obvious?" She said innocently.

"Yes you are and if I turn you down, knowing you, you'll get me in trouble with my girlfriend. So fine." He went to his deep fryer and started to bake a funnel cake.

"You know me better than that. I wouldn't do such an insidious turn." She began to clutch at her heart like Blood did.

"You'd find a way, so I better give you what you want and leave me alone."

"At least let me compensate you for your pains."

"Paraphrasing Shakespeare isn't going to help you but I'll take your money. 2 coins."

"Reasonable, I suppose." She turned her hand to Dynamite.

"I don't have any money."

"You expect a girl to pay for her meal? Typical male." She dug in her pocket and flashed out two golden coins with the H.I.V.E insignia on them.

"Here, but this better be the best funnel cake this side of Jump City." Jinx fumed as she about threw the coins on the counter.

"What do you think?" He took the money and returned back to the deep fryer and out emerged a fresh funnel cake in a few minutes. Jinx took a whiff.

"How mediocre. You shouldn't even be charging me for this."

"Nice try, slimy. Now go." He placed the cake on a paper plate and left it on the counter.

"Fine, but you need to improve your manners if you want customers." She took the plate.

"I will, when the customer isn't a tease with bad luck attached. Off you go."

"Tell that fashion disaster angel of yours to stay on your bad side. Not too many good things happen with the opposite. Come on, Dynamite" She walked away. Dynamite followed when the clerk called out to him.

"Yeah?"

"You dating her, yeah?"

"None of your business. She's just my tour guide."

"I'd be careful if I were you, you know what they say about black cats crossing your path." The clerk turned away and Dynamite, stunned, just walked on.

'Wonder what that was about. Guess they dated. Anyway, she certainly did a nice job of flirting and getting that cake, although, should I be complimenting that?'

"You alright?" Jinx's voice cut in.

"Yeah. Just something he said to me."

" 'Indeed.' Come on, let's go the cafeteria and raid the sugar." She guided him through the labyrinth.

"What about Stone and Gizmo?"

"Let them eat…well, not our cake but..."

"I know, but paraphrasing famous figures doesn't suit you though."

"Shows what you know, when I do it, it amplifies my cuteness a thousand fold. But when you do it, sounds like a dry book report."

"I am not a dry book report."

"You wouldn't be if you weren't so repressed."

"Stop saying that."

"I will when you're not." She threw another lop-sided grin. "Come on, we can get out this way and bypass to the cafeteria." She guided him between two booths and then a bar barricade. "Too easy." She shifted the plate in one hand and did a high jump kick over the bar.

"You know, you could have just gone over it." Dynamite walked and shifted himself over the bar.

"Yes but what flair would I get from that?"

"Not everything is a production." They walked down yet another corridor.

"You're very wrong. Everything is a production. Between banter with your foes to how you carry yourself in normal interaction. If you want to be big, you have to act and think big."

"Actually, someone did tell me that once." Dynamite hid his true reaction.

"Who?"

"Someone I used to know." 'I think it was Mother.'

"Really?"

"She always used to say 'If you want to be big, you have to act and think big.'" He had on a small smile.

"Pity her lesson didn't take."

Dynamite said nothing and kept on walking. "What? What?"

His pace quickened. "What? You can't take a joke?"

"Depends on the joke." He walked as fast as he could, leaving Jinx behind.

'He really needs to stop taking himself so seriously.' "Will you slow down? I'm holding a pastry here."

He kept on walking. 'At least I won't have the fear of liking her.'

'Guess that someone was important to him. Maybe someone he used? Is this the one case I have to…apologize? Damn irony.' "Wait. Wait! I want to say…I'm sorry." She muttered the last part.

'Did I hear that right?' "What?" He leaned over, cupping his ear.

"I'm sorry. Sometimes my light dancing makes me trip up at times." She said sincere.

"All right. I guess I'm sorry too. I'll take the cake." He took the funnel cake and they resumed a slow pace.

"So, care to talk about her?"

"No. It's been a long time since I last saw her so I can't remember much of anything to say about her."

"Hm, I think that's the first thing that you haven't hid about yourself."

"First time for everything."

"Seems to be. Including my apologizing. Because I'm never wrong. Usually." She shifted her eyes.

"Right."

"And now my reputation is shot. Thanks to you." She harrumphed with a pout.

"You'll live."

"Probably not after this cabaret act."

"Why do you say that?"

"Blood has it out for me. That's all." She said nonchalant.

"Why?"

"Oh, for failing a top mission for Slade a few years ago, fighting the Teen 'unable to color coordinate correctly' Titans. Kicked them out of their tower and they kicked me right back. As if that was possible. They just got lucky."

"So it was one screw up. I'm sure your otherwise 'perfect' record would prove otherwise."

"You don't know how the H.I.V.E. works. Failure is something that isn't so…tolerated. Especially once you graduate. Fail and you get sent back. And they make it quite clear they don't want your returning presence at all. Not even mine."

"If it's such a problem, why don't you leave and be solo. You graduated, right? Doesn't sound like you're bound to them anymore." 'I'm giving her advice? Why? She sounds like they'll take care of my problem for me but now, I don't know. Why am I feeling like this?' The Boy Bomber began to have an epiphany.

'Because now I actually know about her and what she's all about. I have empathy? Great.'

"Hard to, given their connections. Can't escape easily."

"Big school like this, not hard to figure. So what are you going to do?"

"I dunno. When I figure it out, then we'll both know."

'Guess the H.I.V.E is more than faceless over the top evil supervillains. They're actual people. Even Gizmo.'

"Anyway, enough of my problems, we have a cake to eat. This way." They went down the corridor and to the cafeteria.

"Fortunately, no one is on now and we can swipe sugar from the dispensers." Jinx twisted off the cap and sprinkled some sugar on the cake.

"A pity it's not powdered."

"We all have to make sacrifices."

"I suppose. So, what is with that Owl Man wannabe? If I may ask?" Dynamite grabbed a small piece of cake.

"Oh, you know. You date a guy because he was small and looked cute in black. And my hex powers helped protect him from bullies until he got his own shtick and then I asked him to do me a big favor, which kinda…got him expelled. Silly dares and all that." She grabbed a large piece.

"What did you ask him to do? Grab test scores?"

"Something like that."

"You ever thought of doing the work yourself?"

"I've thought of it, too hard. Too much fun taking the easy way out."

"And you wonder why you lose."

"That is a cheap shot. I am the best student in the Academy, now take that back or you'll have to break a mirror to get some good luck." She waved her hand at the Boy Bomber.

"I would but your glaringly obvious laziness undermines your own efforts. You talk of being successful but you have to do the work if you want to get there. You can't escape it." Jinx slowly lowered her hand.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right, in a Boy Scout kind of way."

"Mocking me won't be helping you any."

"But it's so much fun." She said with a cute grin.

Dynamite sighed. "At least you know how to lighten up. If you ever do achieve your dream of replacing Slade, it will be refreshing. One of his problems with the job was he never took any pleasure with what he did."

"Sounds like experience." She raised a quizzical eyebrow.

"I worked with him once. Plus my own research of the man."

"Right. Right."

"One thing I can say about your new Headmaster, he sounds the type to enjoy the things he does."

"Oh, he's a ham. But I have to admit he is better than our old Headmistress."

"In what ways?"

"She was too rigid. Never had any fun at all, all business. I think her problem was she wasn't getting any."

Dynamite almost choked. "R—Really?"

"Yeah. If she had sex, she would have loosened up and we wouldn't have had all this pressure to succeed or die. Probably the same reason why you're so repressed. You look like you haven't any in a long time."

"I haven't had any at all." He tried to focus on his anger, not his blush.

"Oh. Well, certainly proves my theory."

"That if you're uptight and once you had sex, you got this relaxed attitude towards things?"

"I never had any either and I'm just like this because I'm the life of the party and you know it. Why muck that up with actually doing it with the slob with the slide rule on the side when I can simply tease someone like the football captain and just get my amusement that way and not sully myself?" Jinx finished nibbling on her piece of cake.

"You're quite the paradox."

"Hey, I have a reputation to reinforce, white, and it's just a boost to help get me what I want."

"At least you're honest about it."

"Depends on who you're going to tell. Naturally my exploits will counter any attempts to pull the curtain away."

"Interesting weapon for a supervillainess, you'll just gossip them to death. You should be in Hollywood."

"After I know which people to blackmail first."

"I'm sure you will, but right now, I think I wouldn't mind lying down. It's been a big day." Dynamite stretched his arms.

"You can certainly lie down in my room." She gave a guttural grin.

"Nice try, slimy but I think I should rest and really get acquainted with my room, thank you. Wherever that's supposed to be."

"Yes, it has, they haven't called back on a room. I suppose I can call again, reward for amusing me today." Jinx whipped out her Communicator.

"Hello, yes, this is Student Jinx. I…" Dynamite grabbed another piece and watched Jinx wheel and deal.

'She certainly has a way about things. Oddly charming in her right. Certainly no one I'm used to. The way she acts, acts almost like if Starfire and Raven were one person. A weird balance.'

"If you don't put him near Sector M-78, I'm going to create such a hex that even your great-grandchildren will be cursed!"

'Yeah, definitely weird balance. And she does look rather cute, screeching at the Communicator like that. Along with those hips, she is quite…I better rest, I'm losing my mind.'

"Good, and I hope you don't nurse with that mouth, little boy." She turned off the device. "There we go. Got you a room near the tech sector. By your buddy Stone's quarters. In Room 202."

"Thanks, you didn't have to do that."

"Actually yours is close enough to my room so we can sneak around with relative swiftness."

"Why do you make it sound so sordid? We're just practicing the act."

"Yes, but they don't know that." She said in a scheming tone.

"You and your reputation. I'm sure it will be the end of you."

"Perhaps, but not today." She daintily chewed another piece.

"So where do I go?"

"I can escort you. I know that place well."

"Really? You probably have with Stone."

"The way you're carrying on with that rock-head, I swear it's a crush."

"No, he just seems familiar. Reminds me of someone I knew from Gotham. I figure, the more I associate with him, the faster it would jog my memory."

"I suppose. Although I wouldn't discredit my theory just yet."

"Uh huh. I'm going to go check my room, and thanks for the cake." He grabbed one more sliver of cake and left the cafeteria.

"Maybe he'll loosen up yet." Jinx gave a small smirk.


Dynamite returned to the atrium only to find Stone missing from the booth.

'Great, now where did he go?' He found Gizmo hovering among the grounds.

"Gizmo! Where's Stone?"

"Blow it out your pie hole, cludgehead. He went to his room to study for Wyatt's snot test."

"What room number?"

"What am I? Directory Assistance? Find it yourself, gnat eater!" He hovered away.

Dynamite sighed and trudged out of the atrium. 'I could torture and annoy him for it but seems like a waste of time, although it would be good payback for all those insults I had to endure.' He blinked in surprise.

'I've been hanging around that witch too long.'

After much wondering, going around in circles, and occasional death threat from people who couldn't possibly be bothered into helping their fellow man, Dynamite finally entered an intersection of corridors called Sector M-78.

'Finally. Maybe I should have asked for written directions but she'd no doubt lord that over me. Like her flirting?' The Boy Bomber searched around for Room 193: Stone's room.

'Although dealing her wasn't as bothersome as I thought it would be. I hope I don't come out of this liking her. No, not possible.' He wondered why he didn't feel convinced.

He knocked on the door. "Hey, it's your new roomie, you busy?"

Stone opened it barely a crack. "Hey, um, could you be a peach and come back later. I got some studying to do."

'Be a peach? What have they done to him?' "You're joking right?"

"Well…"

"Oh, let me in." Dynamite put his foot in the door and budged his way inside.

"Are you alright?" He asked the granite teen.

"Well, I'm a little off putted that you're barnstorming in here when I have a test to study for."

"Are you kidding me? We've been worried sick about you not calling us and thinking you're dead or captured and you're holed up in here worrying about a test?"

"Keep your voice down! Look, part of fitting in with them is going through their loops, like tests and quizzes. And I'm a natural, and with that I'm getting closer into Brother Blood's good graces."

Dynamite suddenly felt disoriented by that word. 'Serve Blood. Wait, no, what?'

"You ok, man?"

"Yeah, just tired. But don't you digress on me. I can understand about your worry about that but that doesn't excuse your lack of communication."

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I just got all swept up with them. I can see why kids get sucked up with them."

"Yeah, I'm beginning to see that myself."

"So since you know I'm ok, you staying or taking off? And my other question would be: anyone else with you?"

"I…" Dynamite suddenly thought of Jinx. "am not sure. If I go, then you may possibly be compromised, especially with Jinx. And no, it's just me. Need a couple of warm bodies to keep up the illusion."

"Alright but what's this about Jinx?" Stone asked in a suspicious tone.

"Let's just say she's been getting under my skin. I didn't reveal much of anything but she can put two and two together."

"Yeah, she's whipsmart like that. But I've barely scratched the surface here, and if I go right now, then it was all for nothing."

Dynamite was contemplating. "Your relationship with Blood is that good that you can ingratiate yourself with him and find out what he's up to?"

"I think so."

"Well, I don't know now. After this, I don't think it would hurt to have some back up."

"I didn't pull anything. I was merely playing out my mission in the depth needed and I'm sorry for my lapse in my judgment. If you don't think I can handle it by myself, then maybe you should get someone else for missions like these."

"Look, I'm not questioning your judgment. But the H.I.V.E isn't like the triumvirate of lame image that Jinx and Gizmo fall into and oh, listen to me." Dynamite became aware of the irony.

"What?"

"Starfire was concerned that I was going alone and told her I can handle it and I'm repeating the conversation here."

"Oh, well, you got your answer and you can go." Stone was ushering him out the door.

"I don't know. I don't want to leave you here alone."

"How did your conversation with Star end?"

"I'm here aren't I?"

"There you go, you left to come here, and you can leave to go home."

"But Cy…"

"If you stay, I'll see you at class tomorrow and I'll help you through it. Ok? Good bye." He shut the door.

Dynamite contemplated knocking the door but decided to walk on.

'I could drag him out of here. But me dragging his body all over creation would make a lot of noise and attract attention. Suddenly wished Raven was here.' He began to stretch.

'Getting tired a bit. I guess I can check my room and go from there.' He lingered at the door for a minute.

'Hope Stone will do alright on his test.' He immersed into the darkness of the hall.


After a bit of walking, he finally found Room 202. The Boy Bomber opened the door and glanced around the Spartan room. 'Certainly looks lived in.' He noticed the closet full of clothes. 'Uh huh, I wonder if the previous occupant will come back. Probably not.'

'A short rest would do the trick.' He collapsed on the bed. "Fresh sheets. That's always good." He began to doze off. A few minutes later, the door gave off a knock. Dynamite tossed out of bed and somberly walked to the door.

"What?"

"It's Jinx."

He opened the door and saw himself reflected in those feline eyes.

"What?"

"I see you've found your room. Trying to sleep are we?"

"I was."

"Did you sleep with the mask on?" She asked, quizzical.

"Uh, no."

'How obsessive.' "How obsessive."

"Did you want something beyond you mocking my sleeping apparel?"

"I did want to tell you, class starts at 8. I'll get you the necessary books. You have some of your classes with me. Isn't that lucky of you?" She handed him an H.I.V.E. schedule form.

"Or given your name, wouldn't that mean I'd be unlucky?"

"You're fortunate you're so amusing or I'd hex you for that. But that can wait until tomorrow. I best go or someone might get the wrong idea about us." She said suggestively.

"Including me, good night." He shut the door in her face.

"Well, I'd do revenge for that but Gizmo will do it for me. The universe balances once again." She said sotto voce. "And why am I talking to myself? Picking up his habits." She faded into the shadows.

Dynamite briefly glanced at the schedule. 'So should I stay or go? I guess Cyborg can handle Blood. He doesn't need me. Although…I could use this as an opportunity to study the trio in depth since we don't know much about them. And Cy could use the backup. Okay, that's it, I'm staying.' He heard a door slam in the distance.

'First order, watch for Gizmo and his late night threat. No rest for the wicked…or the good.'

After two and a half hours of sleep, Dynamite sat up and dug out his Communicator. 'Raven should be on.'

"Robin, calling in. Robin, calling in. Please respond." After a wisp of static, Raven's blank visage appeared.

"Took you long enough. How did the infiltration go and is he alive?"

"Had a few death threats, a gothic witch threw herself at me and the new Headmaster actually liked me, the usual. And yes, he's alive and safe." He copied Jinx's nonchalant tone.

"The usual with you. And 'redefine' safe in this case."

"He's…studying for a test in his room."

"Super. And he was so busy cramming he couldn't make a minute phone call?"

"I don't know; there is something more here but I don't know what, however I think I should stick around for his sake and re-enlighten him on his former occupation."

"Stockholm?"

"I'm beginning to think so. And I think he may have something with that gothic witch, Jinx."

"The one with the pigtails and the platformers right?"

"That's the one."

"I have a score to settle with her. She went into my room. This can not do." Robin rolled his eyes.

"Yes, yes. Smother her with your cape after I get Cy out, okay?"

"I will. Will you need help to extract?"

"If I have to, I'll warn ahead of time. Cyborg is not someone you can hoist on your shoulder."

"No, and we'll await your next communication. I…have a personal question to ask you. How are you handling this?"

'Raven showing concern? Saints be praised.' "I'm ok. I've faced worse. Although I can live without Jinx flirting at me."

"Flirting?" She arched an eyebrow.

"Something like that. She's quite different than she appeared to be, back when."

"You're not falling for her too are you?" She chided.

"No, no. I know what my mission is, certainly not here for a date."

"Good. Speaking of which, Starfire waited hours with bated breath, I finally got her to go to bed."

The name fell on Robin like a ton of bricks. "Yeah, how is she?"

"I'll put it this way: she stares at the view screen any longer, airplanes will crash into the bay."

"That may be, but I can't rush this."

"I know. I'm…doing my best to calm her down."

"Thank you, Raven. Are you ok?"

"Just fulfill your mission before any real damage is set." She monotoned, yet her eyes expressed far more sadness than the empath let on.

"I'll do my best. I'll call you tomorrow after school. Like 7."

"Why so late?"

"I have a cabaret act to practice. With Jinx." He sighed.

"Do I want to know? No, never mind." Robin thought he heard a distant explosion on Raven's end.

"It was an offer I couldn't refuse."

"Right, just hurry before the kids blow up the tower."

"No promises. Good night, Raven." He turned off the device and stared at the ceiling. 'You can make out a face with the dots.'

He made out feline eyes and an angular chin. 'This is going to be a long day.'


To be continued…

Leave a review on the way out if you wish. See you in the funny papers.